best practices (51)

Optimizing the platform (the user experience) is part of the community manager's role which tends to get overlooked. Once it's developed, most people leave it. It should be an ongoing process. The goal is to increase the number of interactions which take place in the platform. This is a process which can be continually refined.
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Over the past few years, I’ve seen and felt first hand the skepticism of business leaders and traditional marketing folks around the financial return on investing in community initiatives. While it used to be that most of the evidence was anecdotal, today there are quite a few examples of community efforts moving the bottom line among the biggest and smallest of brands.
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As community managers rise in the ranks, we're often tasked with strategic planning for our entire team. This is our opportunity to align the greater organization around community goals while demonstrating how community initiatives reinforce business goals. Where to start?
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At Loyal, feedback from our community — clients, colleagues, partners, friends, and even sometimes family — is invaluable. In fact, feedback is one of the leading benefits of having a community. It leads to product and service improvements, open channels of communication, customer insight, and sometimes, new product ideas.
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Switching community platforms is one of the riskiest things you can do. The benefits are usually minimal and the dangers are colossal. Unless you picked a terrible platform initially, changing a platform won't help you much. If you want a better community, it's rarely a new platform you need, it's a new and better approach to community management.
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Today, we're proud to announce a project that's been in the works for a while. A collaboration with Community Pioneer F. Randall Farmer to produce this white paper: "Five Questions for Selecting an Online Community Platform."
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Last week, David Spinks and the team at TheCommunityManager.com gathered together over 300 community professionals for a first year conference that proved to be highly polished and extremely informative - CMX Summit. Here are our takeaways:
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By now, you've opened up lines of communication, written and shared solid guidelines, and established benchmarks. You're bound to have made a few in-depth connections with community members. Now is the time to harness these connections, get to know people more deeply, and share their stories.
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Now that you've opened up clear lines of communication and set up guidelines for your community, it's time to synthesize some community feedback. This allows you to establish benchmarks for your community's current sentiment and makeup. This is something many community managers skip as they dive into a new community. Don't skip this. It's non-optional. If you don't know what people want, how are you going to create a forward-thinking strategy?
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Managing a few different types of communities, all at various stages of development, has taught me a great deal about people. Through my trials and tribulations I have discovered that three key elements are paramount to any community’s success. While they can be described simply as “work” for you, I believe that incorporating these three attributes into any community management strategy will result in marked improvement in engagement.
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Your employees probably aren’t keen to help you build a community. It’s more work for them. It’s not even in their job description. If you force them to get involved, you’re going to get the minimum effort. So don’t force them, addict them. Here’s a few ideas to get your employees involved in building your community.
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After you've had a chance to establish yourself as a trusty and reliable manager to your community, the next step is to lay down the law. Many products have terms of use, but those terms of use are very different than community guidelines. They're also not all that visible and people find them to be insulting and not the least bit user-friendly (who reads all that legal talk?).
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